Archive for the ‘breakfast and learning ability’ Category

Eating to Improve Brain Power—Part 2

December 22, 2012

With New Year’s resolution time coming up fast, now is a great time to refresh your knowledge about which foods can give you a boost in terms of brain power. Here, in Part 2 of “Eating to Improve Brain Power,” we continue our list of good bets for foods that will give you a “cognitive” edge.

Caffeine. This mild stimulant found in coffee improves mental acuity, which might explain why coffee enthusiasts guzzle 120,000 tons of the stuff each year. Also, coffee’s antioxidant richness helps maintain brain health. And some research suggests that drinking coffee can actually stave off depression in women.

Spinach. Spinach is rich in the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to help protect against cognitive decline. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who reported eating the most leafy green and cruciferous vegetables had a markedly lower rate of cognitive decline, compared to those who ate the least.

Dark Chocolate. Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate is healthy for your whole body, but its caffeine content is thought to play a role in maintaining mental acuity. Chocolate is rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidant that helps to improve blood flow (and thus brain health) by regulating cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.

Avocados. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats that improve vascular health and blood flow, making them another brain food.

Water. When a person becomes dehydrated, their brain tissue actually shrinks. Studies have shown that dehydration can affect cognitive function and impair short-term memory, focus and decision making.

Wheat Germ. Wheat germ is a rich vegetarian source of choline, a nutrient involved in the body’s production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that boosts memory. Eggs are another good choline source.

Beets. Beets are a good source of naturally-occurring nitrates, which help improve blood flow to the brain.

Garlic. Garlic may help stave off some forms of brain cancer, according to research published in Cancer, the medical journal of the American Cancer Society. Investigators found that certain compounds in garlic actually worked to kill glioblastoma cells—a type of malignant tumor cell.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at

Eating to Improve Brain Power—Part 1

December 15, 2012

Study after study has found a relationship between what we put in our mouths and how well we can perform important thinking and memory tasks. In addition to considering which specific nutrients may help brain function, we also need to look at the totality of our diets. A recent British study found that a diet high in saturated fat actually caused damage to neurons that control energy and appetite in mice. Other studies have shown that when we eat our meals can be a factor in our performance.

Doctors say cognitive abilities can start dropping in your 40s. But there’s mounting evidence that what you eat can help improve brain function right now.

In this blog post (Part 1) and the next on December 15 (Part 2), we list some of the foods that have been shown to improve brain function, protect against age-associated cognitive decline and encourage focus and clarity. Hopefully, you will find some of your favorites among them.

Walnuts. Walnuts are chock-full of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and are the only good nut source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which helps promote blood flow, which in turn allows for efficient delivery of oxygen to the brain.

Olive Oil. Olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to actually slow brain aging.

Berries. A recent study published in the Annals of Neurology found that a diet high in blueberries, strawberries and other berries was linked to a slower mental decline in areas like memory and focus in a large sample of middle-aged women.

Sardines. Fatty fishes like sardines and salmon are a well-known brain booster, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which have been linked to lower risk of dementia, improved focus and memory. Sunflower seeds might be a good alternative.

For more brain superfoods, see our blog post for December 15, 2012.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at

Eating Breakfast May Improve Cognitive Functions

October 23, 2011

Eating a nutritious breakfast can have positive effects on your child’s learning and overall health and well-being.

According to researchers, evidence shows that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function related to memory, test scores and school attendance. Breakfast eaters also tend to behave better, get along with peers, and are more attentive—all of which can positively effect academic performance.

Breakfast literally “breaks” the overnight “fast.” It replenishes needed nutrients and provides kids with energy to start their day. Choosing the right breakfast not only fuels body and brain, it contributes to the overall nutrient content of your child’s diet. In addition, breakfast eaters tend to consume more calcium, dietary fiber, zinc, riboflavin, iron and vitamins A and C, which are all essential for healthy growth and development.

Ideally, a nutritious breakfast will include a variety of foods from different food groups. Start with whole grain breads and cereals. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, which increases feelings of fullness and helps prevent hunger pains throughout the morning. High-fiber, low-sugar, fortified and ready-to-eat cereal is a simple and easy choice. Other smart and economical breakfast selections include English muffins, toast or oatmeal.

Protein is an essential nutrient for growing bodies and helps children stay focused throughout the morning. Simple and versatile selections include reduced or low fat milk, an egg, a slice of cheese, cottage cheese, peanut butter, or low fat yogurt. For a lean meat choice try Canadian bacon or deli meat, like chicken or turkey. Continue to add variety by tossing in a fruit or vegetable serving. Top cereal with strawberries, blueberries, or a banana or serve a glass of 100% fruit juice. Mix chopped bell peppers, mushrooms or onions into an omelet, breakfast burrito or stuffed pita.

Take steps to make the morning rush less hectic. Keep simple breakfast items stocked and easily accessible. Prepare some items the evening before or pack a breakfast to go. Even a simple and quick breakfast can be healthy. And remember: Parents are important role models; so if you sit down for breakfast, your children are more likely to do the same.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: And be sure to visit our website at

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